WB: China's 'demographic dividend' to end in 2010

Updated: 2007-03-25 09:44

BEIJING -- China's economic growth is set to slow in 2010 when the dependent population rises to a level that cancels out the country's "demographic dividend", which has existed since the mid-1960s, according to a recent World Bank global development report.

The dependency ratio - the gap between the working population and those too young or old to work - in China was at its lowest in 1968, allowing the country to spend less on dependent groups and more on economic development.

China's advantageous population structure has contributed to 27 percent of economic growth, a similar figure to that in Japan and Singapore, but a country's demographic dividend usually lasts for 40 years until the aging problem looms.

Official statistics show China currently has 144 million people who are over 60 years old, accounting for 11 percent of the 1.3 billion population. But the number will reach 160 million in 2010, 200 million in 2015 and 400 million in 2044, which will result in huge pressures being exerted on the pension and healthcare systems.

"China has to invest more in education and training to raise productivity and steer its manufacturing industries to create high value-added products," an expert advised on condition of anonymity.

"Otherwise, when the demographic dividend is over," he said, "everything will slow down."

From 1950 to 1980, China's population exploded from 500 million to 1 billion, prompting the country to start its family planning policy in the late 1970s.

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